Digital Places of Interest

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Post #15: Five Minutes With Hamlet


Hey Folks! It's Wednesday, August 1st, which means today is the world premier of Hamlet! The Musical! Just kidding, it's actually the real play, Hamlet: A Downer in Five Acts. I thought for today's post it would be cool to do an interview with Stephen Thorne, the actor playing Hamlet. But first, let's have a little context.

We should begin by explaining the summer play is a big deal for us English Nerds. You see, for one week during the summer, Bread Loaf is transformed into a veritable hotbed of culture. Theater lovers from all over New England come in droves to pack it in at the Burgess Meredith Little Theater. (Mostly to see the summer productions, but also to gawk at English Nerds in their natural habitat, giggling when they spy a Nerd buried in a book running smack dab into a wall or pine tree.)

Undercover Nerd. 

And yes, we are referring to that Burgess Meredith, the actor who played Micky, the guy who trained Rocky, who right before the best training montage in film history snarled, "You's gonna piss lightnin' and crap thundah!" Turns out Micky was a serious patron of the arts and funded the re-building of the Little Theater after it burned down several years ago. Who knew?

Back to the plays. The way it works is that a troupe of actors cobbled together from the Trinity Rep theater (located on the mean streets of Providence, Rhode Island), along with a few strays from New York City, gather on the Mountain to perform plays. And when they aren't dazzling English Nerds with their acting skills, they assist the Bread Loaf professors with dramatic performances of classic texts. No one is sure how many years actors have been an integral part of the Bread Loaf way, but we managed to locate an old photo album documenting past productions.

1924. Ancestral Nerds.  
Same play, 57 years later. More Chicks + More Writhing= ManNerd Heaven.  
And now for Stephen Thorne. Stephen has been coming to Bread Loaf as an actor for thirteen years, playing the lead in several plays, the names of which I would write in this sentence if I were a real journalist. The point is, Stephen kicks ass, to the extent that acting in plays can be considered a form of ass kicking. When he's not an actor on the Mountain, he is a member of the Trinity Rep and a doting husband and father.
It's a bird, it's a plane, it's Super Nerd.  Feel free to add your own Nerd jokes.  And no, I didn't ask him to wear this t-shirt for the sake of few Nerd jokes. I wish. 

On to the interview. Being that Esquire is one of my favorite magazines, a natural choice for the Urban Daddy that I am, I decided to borrow from one of Esquire's best features called,"What I've Learned." Here's how it goes: celebrities are given a word to consider, expound, and riff on while a professional interviewer--in this case, me--writes down everything they say. Well almost everything. It was really hard to type as fast as Stephen Thorne talks but I'm fairly certain I got at least 43% of what he said. Don't sneer, folks. It's called "Journalistic license." Look it up. Amateurs.

WHAT I'VE LEARNED (in five minutes)

with Stephen Thorne (Hamlet) 

The Little Theater: I love Burgess Meredith. I love that space. I feel like the audience and the actors have such intimate direct contact with one another. 

Mothers: (laughs) Working as an actor, you work at night. Angela [Stephen's wifehas been with the kids more this summer, but even when I'm at home more, mothers tend to be a center for kids. The first person you call out for is mother. I find that rather profound. 

Revenge: I spend a lot of time in my car thinking about the things I'd like to say or do to other people.  I know that makes me sound mad, but other people do it too. It's a funny instinct. You find a way to negotiate it or get around it. 

Bread Loaf: A calm.  

Beards: I can't grow one. Mine is patchy. 

Madness: Someday they'll have a name for Hamlet's type of madness. When you disregard any rules of how to behave or communicate and just do what you want it makes life difficult for everyone else. [Editor's note: I took this comment as a personal attack.]

Front Desk Mavens: The pillar. Answer to and for all things. And yet I always have to look up the freakin' number. You'd think after 13 years I'd have it memorized. 

And that's that.

In a departure from the norm, today we have Edward talking about Edward. Recently, Edward shared some insight about the difficulty of successfully biking up the Lincoln Gap,  a legendary road which boasts a stretch of pavement said to be the steepest in America. Cycle enthusiasts speak reverentially of it.  Edward says he's made it up once. I asked him how that made him feel, emotionally. "Emotionally? Listen: I go to bed a wreck and I wake up a wreck. Riding a bike ain't gonna change that." Word. 
Christian Patrick Clarke
Front Desk Novitiate, 2012
Hic et Ubique

Who's that? That's right, in 2004 I scored a small role in the summer play as the executioner in Measure for Measure. Opposite me is Jacques Lezra, a frequent Bread Loaf instructor. Jacques had the role of the defiant prisoner, Barnadine. Coincidentally, Jacques was my literature professor during my senior year of college (2000). Alas,  he did not remember me. (This is often the case with teachers. I know from experience. I barely remember the names of 8% of all the students I've taught.) He forgot, that is, until we found ourselves rehearsing for this very scene. In the middle of rehearsals he blurted out, "Oh, Christian. Yes, now I do remember!" And then I sent him off to be killed. 


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